Title: I WIsh I was a Growed Up
Characters: Sam, Dean, John
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural except in my dreams where schmoop abounds.
Warnings: Those of you who think John Winchester was a good father doing the best he could under terrible circumstances may not like my portrayal. He's not deliberately cruel, but he is negligent and he treats his sons as though they are soldiers, not little boys. Just remember this story is AU and Sammy knows what his daddy does at a much younger age than canon Sammy.
Word Count: ~2,900
Summary: Sammy has just figured out that life isn't fair for his older brother, Dean. He wishes there was some way he could help. When his wish comes true their lives are changed forever. AU hurt/sick!Dean protective!Sam Wee!chester
I Wish I was a Growed Up
Chapter 14 The Black Imp
The gypsy woman frantically motions them to follow her, takes them to a mobile trailer away from the hustle and bustle of rides and stalls being erected all over the park grounds. They stand right outside, shaded from curious eyes and ears by the hulking vehicle. She introduces herself as Giselle and the younger lady as her granddaughter, Sasha, and then she starts telling them a story, words pouring from her mouth in a torrent, as if she can't get them out fast enough, as if she can diffuse a bomb if she can only talk fast enough.
Dean listens as hard as he can because from what he's able to understand of the gypsy's tale, Sammy's wish, made with all the good intentions and sweet devotion of a naïve child, is about to bring a maelstrom of evil down upon their heads.
She tells them of her grandfather who grew up in Romania, of his encounter with a black imp, who was a terrible enchanter, how her grandfather stole a wish from the creature, how the imp's rage burned so hot it boiled the lake near his village, and how it vowed to take the wish back, along with its revenge, no matter where her grandfather went.
"My grandfather left the village after the lake boiled." She explains. "He was so frightened, he got on an ocean-bound vessel the very next day. It didn't matter to him where the boat was going, all he cared about was getting as far away as he could. A series of boats and an excruciating journey finally brought him to America. He never used the wish for himself, too scared the imp would be able to track him once he used it. Instead, he passed the wish on to me with the condition not to use it myself or give it to anyone close to me, figuring the imp would never be able to track it once it had passed to someone completely unrelated to our family."
John's eyes are blazing, crackling hot and Dean doesn't think he's ever seen his dad so angry, which is really saying something. "Let me get this straight, you gave that wish, a black imp's wish, to my son. You gave a wish everyone in your family was terrified to use, to a small child and then…what? Just hoped for the best?"
Sasha steps between John and her grandmother, hands on her hips, matching his blazing anger with indignant fury. "Hold your horses, where do you come off yelling at us? And Gamma, why are you telling them our old folktales? They're just stories, none of it is true. You've been telling me that story for as long as I can remember."
Blowing out a harsh breath, John ignores the red-haired woman. The man is acting as though the strange, fantastical story is the real deal and he's taking it all very serious - deadly serious. Dean wonders what his dad knows that he's not saying.
"I wish…I mean I pray to heaven it wasn't true." The older woman blanches at her first choice of words before she continues. "But now I know for sure. He's coming. I can see it. There's no way to stop him." She looks at Sammy where he's wandered off to chase a frog and her face expresses a dreadful sorrow, as though Sammy's fate is preordained, like he's already dead and she knows it's by her hand.
When the tiny boy looks up at Dean, grinning wide and triumphant, frog in hand, Dean feels his throat close up so tight he almost puts his hand on his neck to ease the constriction. Even though his brother is only a few feet away, suddenly it's too far and Dean motions him to come closer, wraps his uncast, functioning arm around the boy's slender shoulders and pulls him possessively against his side.
"Who's coming? What's going on?" Frustrated at being ignored, Sasha stamps her foot.
"The black imp. He felt the wish being used and it's drawing him to the one who used it. He wants the wish back and he'll take it no matter the cost. I'm so sorry. I didn't realize in time. I never would have given it to anyone if I'd known, much less these precious boys."
"What do you mean 'no matter the cost'? What does that mean, exactly? And how can this imp take the wish back? The wish has been used, it doesn't exist anymore." John's anger takes a back seat to his hunter instincts. Information is key during any hunt and Dean can sense the hunter in his dad rising to the surface, gathering every relevant clue.
"No, no, you're wrong. Wishes never cease to exist, but to take one back, once it's been used, is a terrible thing. Terrible." Leaning into her granddaughter, the gypsy woman squeezes her eyes shut tight.
"This is nuts." Sasha mutters, nevertheless, she places one arm around the older woman's frail waist.
John's focus never wavers. "Terrible in what way? How can a wish be taken back…or away…or whatever?"
The adult conversation holds no interest to Sammy and he begins to squirm in his brother's rigid hold. Dean doesn't let go.
"A wish like the one your son made, one truly made from the heart, becomes a part of that person, an inextricable part. The imp will be able to take the wish away from the boy, but to do so…it'll have to kill him." At this, the gypsy sobs in a shuddering breath, collapsing further into her granddaughter.
A stiff wind kicks up right at that moment, tossing Sasha's long mane of ringlets around her head.
There must be some kind of misunderstanding. There's no way the gypsy said what Dean thinks she said. No way, because if she really said some creature has set its sights on his Sammy, wants to kill his baby brother, well…certainly dad would be more upset. Dean can't figure out how his dad can be so calm, how Sammy can be so carefree, how the sky can be so bright. Not when they're living in a world where such a thing might become a reality. It's surreal.
"Okay, that's enough!" Sasha firms her hold on Giselle and moves to open the trailer door with her free hand. "This conversation is over."
The older woman looks dazed, but she shuffles toward the door at her granddaughter's gentle prodding.
The trailer must belong to these women, or possibly just to Giselle, her home while she travels from town to town, reading fortunes as a part of the carnival troupe.
John puts a hand on the door, keeping it closed. "Wait. We need to know more. We need to know everything you can tell us. You did this…you have to help us." His voice is cold and brittle like ice.
Sasha presses her lips together in thought, stares at John then gazes at the two brothers. Her eyes soften. "Let's go inside and sit at least." She concedes.
The inside of the trailer is as colorful as the gypsy herself. Ornate paper lanterns hang from the ceiling and pillows of every shape and size cascade from the sofa onto the floor. A small kitchen area contains a miniature refrigerator, a couple of cabinets, a microwave, and a table which only seats two. Once all five of them have crowded into the tight living quarters, Sasha indicates for John and Giselle to sit on the sofa while she and the boys take seats on pillows on the floor. Sammy bounces on his pillow and giggles, not yet catching on to the stress emanating from everyone else.
"The worst part is…" Giselle continues as though she had never been interrupted. "The wish made by the one brother is linked to the other. Because the younger used the wish to benefit, not himself, but his older brother…you see. It binds them together, heart to heart, loops and tangles around and through them both until its impossible to see where one ends and the other begins." She weaves her fingers together and clasps them so stiffly her knuckles turn white. "When the imp seeks to remove the wish, both boys will die, their bond will not allow one to live without the other."
A tense hush falls on the small group and even Sammy ceases his playful bouncing, glancing from Giselle's red-rimmed eyes to Dean's bitten lips, to his father's flared nostrils.
"For the sake of argument, let's assume any of this could be true." Sasha breaks the uncomfortable silence. "Gamma, what makes you think this black imp is coming?"
"I can see it on them." The gypsy woman flaps a worn hand between Dean and Sammy. "The black imp's mark…the mark of death. It wasn't there the first time I saw them and now it is. He knows they used his wish and he's coming to get it. He's already marked them and it won't take him long to find them." She whispers, voice breaking.
"That's not going to happen." Standing at his full height, John glares down at the older woman. "What options do we have? Can they unmake the wish? Can we stop the creature?"
There's no mistaking the determined set of John's frame, nor the confidence in his bearing. After contemplating the hunter's questions, Giselle seems to come to the conclusion that John is not a man to underestimate. She straightens from the defeated slump she had adopted and her voice is steady when she says, "There's no way to unmake the wish, but you can kill the imp. The hard part will be getting past its defenses. It's a creature of strong magic and it will use it's illusions against you. It can delve into your mind, find your deepest fears, and make you live them in vivid clarity. You'll only see what it wants you to see, believe what it wants you to believe."
The three adults continue to talk and Dean's concentration is split. Half of his attention is on the gypsy woman while she shares every piece of lore she's ever heard about imps, the black imp in particular, as well as anything she can see about their futures. The other half is thinking about everything he's heard so far. His head is spinning with rage-filled black imps and fearful illusions and binding wishes and it's all too much, too bizarre. The fact that his dad is taking it all in stride makes the situation even more astonishing.
It doesn't take much longer for John to finish up with the two women. They all decide the black imp will most likely leave the fortune teller and her granddaughter alone since they no longer have the wish and neither of them had a hand in stealing it in the first place. Giselle sees nothing in her own or Sasha's future to cause her worry. Her farwell is a final warning, "Be prepared. It'll try to separate you, use it's illusions to divide and conquer, picking on anyone left behind and vulnerable. Stick together."
John tells the boys he's taking them to Bobby's. Although their hunter father likes to keep his family on the move, there are a few points to be made for having a home base of operations like Bobby's place. For example, Bobby has protection sigils carved into the foundation of his house, protections from all types of supernatural stuff, including illusions. Also, John's friend has accumulated tons of knowledge in the form of ancient texts, scrolls, maps, and equipment which he keeps in his house. Once they get to Bobby's they'll have resources and time to shift through it all looking for a way to defeat the black imp, assuming the creature truly is coming after them. Dad makes a phone call before they leave to let Bobby know to expect them and to be ready for trouble in the form of a furious illusionist which Dean is really pretty sure Bobby isn't too happy about if the loud expletives coming from the phone are any indication.
It's a long two day drive from the park in Texas to Bobby's in South Dakota, stopping only when absolutely necessary for food, sleep, and bathroom breaks. Dean has plenty of time to think when he's not trying to keep his fidgety little brother occupied. He doesn't like the sound of illusions that make you see things that aren't there because if he can't tell the difference between what's actually happening and what he believes is happening he won't be able to defend his brother.
It's his job to take care of Sammy, so it's his responsibility to find a way to see through the illusions and keep his little brother safe. End of story. Enchanter or not, the black imp isn't getting close enough to touch one tousled hair on Sammy's head, not if Dean has any say in the matter.
Of course, he doesn't know how to see through illusions. Maybe there's a trick he can learn or a skill he can master to allow him to see only the truth. Dean's still pondering this when they pull onto the dirt road which is more of a long driveway leading to Bobby's salvage yard and house than anything else as no other businesses or houses are located along the path.
Dust plumes up behind the Impala and then the world is plunged into darkness. The car lurches forward, tires grinding through gravel and sand. Dean can't see his hand in front of his face, but he hears his father howl and the sound is unlike anything he's ever heard before, making his spine tingle worse than nails on a chalkboard. He's slammed into the door as the car fishtails and nothing makes sense. There's no sound coming from Sammy's side of the car, no crying, no call for help. Panicked, Dean stretches his hand into the space where he knows his brother is sitting, or should be sitting. He gropes until his fingers curl around a small wrist and relief smoothes the edges of dread stealing over him. If this is an illusion cast by the black imp, he needs to remain calm and try to see the truth. He needs to hold on to Sammy.
The car has stopped rolling, dad has stopped howling, and there's a fetid dank smell Dean has only ever smelled in the musty basement of a house they once rented. Sammy's wrist jerks in his grasp once, twice, and then it's wrenched away from him. Dean hears the scrape of claws on concrete and the snapping of jaws and then Sammy is screaming. The little boy's terrified cries slice through Dean's sanity. "Sammy!"
None of this can be happening, none of it can be real. Dean's locked in a nightmare he can't escape. He recognizes the nightmare as one he's had frequently, but this time he can't wake up. His breath comes in short, shallow bursts. Even though he doesn't remember getting out of the car, there's open space around him and his brother's voice is getting further and further away. Following the sound of Sammy's plaintive yelling, Dean takes off at a full run. "Sammy! Hold on, I'm coming! Sammy!"
The darkness surrounding him is absolute, pressing in on him until he swears it's clogging up his nostrils, until he can taste it in his throat. He's blind, can't make out the first shape or even a sliver of light. Obstacles in his path cause him to stumble and fall over and over again.
Tears are streaming down his face. A sharp twinge in his back sends spikes of pain shooting down his legs and his cast in its sling bumps hard against his chest. He can't breathe through the frantic pace of his heart and he knows he can't catch up to the creature.
In the distance, Sammy's screams cut off.
Utterly alone, that's when Dean's screams begin.
A/N: I'm going to be in Vancouver at the VanCon next week. Anyone else going to be there? Wanna try to meet up? I've never been to one so I don't know how to go about finding you, but would love to try, PM me.
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